4 Tips for Making Top Quality Corn Silage
Corn silaging season is a busy time for farmers and retails. Below are a few tips to consider when cutting your corn silage crop.
Tips #1: Harvest at the correct moisture
- Ideal whole plant moisture for harvest: 62-68% moisture (38-32% dry matter).
- 62-68% moisture range can correlate with 1/2 to 3/4 milk line progression, but doing a harvest sample is the best way to check whole plant moisture before cutting the whole field
- Different storage methods will require different ideal whole plant moistures for optimal ensiling conditions
- Approximate dry-down rate: 0.5%/day
Tip #2: Get the right chop length
- The theoretical length of cut (TLC) also known as target chop length: 1/2” to 3/4”
- Silage chopped at the TLC will pack more firmly and have increased palatability for livestock
- Particles that are cut too coarse will reduce packing efficiency and can cause silage to spoil due to poor fermentation
- Particles cut too fine can reduce palatability and is a less effective source of roughage
Tip #3: Packing the pit properly
- The purpose of packing the pit is to remove excess oxygen that can inhibit the ensiling process.
- Typical rule of thumb: 800lbs of tractor for every ton of silage delivered to the pit per hour
- Want to pack approx. 6” of silage particles at a time to avoid the development of air pockets between layers
Tip #4: Consider using bacterial inoculants
- These bacteria work in anaerobic conditions which is why getting the right chop length and good packing is critical
- Lactic acid-producing bacterial inoculants are alive and inactive until rehydrated with moisture from the chopped silage (one of numerous critical reasons for ideal harvest moistures) and can greatly improve ensiling process
- Consider this: Bacterial inoculants may have a greater benefit on corn silage particles that are immature, damaged from heat and drought stress or has had exposure to heavy frost
- Depending on the operation, a Lactic acid-producing bacteria inoculant may not be necessary but a heterofermenting bacteria (L. buchneri) can be used to increase improve bunk face management